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Trauma-Informed Care for Military Personnel:
Recognizing the Unique Challenges And Impact Of Trauma

Learn more about the benefits of trauma-informed care for military personnel at New Choices Treatment Center.


Trauma-Informed Care for Military Personnel: Introduction

Trauma is a pervasive issue that affects people from all walks of life. For those who have served in the military, the impact of traumatic experiences can be particularly profound.
Military personnel face unique challenges due to their:1
  • Exposure to combat
  • Deployment
  • Operational stress
This can have lasting effects on their mental health and well-being.
Trauma-Informed Care for Military Personnel

Effective Trauma-Informed Care for Military Personnel at New Choices Treatment Center

New Choices Treatment Center (NCTC) is located in San Antonio, Texas. At NCTC, we recognize the importance of addressing trauma in the context of addiction treatment, especially for those who have served our country.
By understanding the significance of trauma in military settings and the core principles of trauma-informed care, we can better support those who have sacrificed so much for our nation.

Trauma-Informed Care for Military Personnel: The Significance of Trauma in Military Settings

For the brave men and women who serve in our nation’s armed forces, the impact of trauma is an all too common reality.
At New Choices Treatment Center, we understand the unique challenges faced by military personnel and are committed to providing compassionate, trauma-informed care for military personnel to support their recovery and well-being.

The Effects of Deployment and Operational Stress

Combat experiences can have a profound impact on the mental health of military personnel. This includes:
  • Exposure to life-threatening situations
  • Witnessing violence and death
  • The constant state of hypervigilance
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, approximately 11-20% of veterans who served in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in a given year.2

Effects of Combat-Related Trauma

The effects of combat-related trauma can manifest in various ways, including:
  • Intrusive memories and flashbacks
  • Avoidance of trauma-related triggers
  • Negative changes in mood and cognition
  • Hyperarousal and hypervigilance
These symptoms can persist long after the initial traumatic event, affecting a person’s ability to function in daily life and maintain healthy relationships.

Military Sexual Trauma (MST)

MST refers to the experience of sexual assault or repeated, threatening sexual harassment during military service.

Prevalence and Impact of MST

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, approximately 1 in 3 women and 1 in 50 men report experiencing MST.3
The traumatic consequences of MST can be severe, leading to a range of mental health concerns, including:
  • PTSD
  • Depression
  • Substance abuse

Addressing the prevalence and impact of MST requires a trauma-informed approach that prioritizes safety, trust, and empowerment.

By creating a supportive environment that validates the experiences of survivors and offers evidence-based treatments, we can help people heal from sexual trauma.

Interpersonal Violence and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

In addition to combat-related trauma and MST, many military personnel have experienced interpersonal violence and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) throughout their lives.4
ACEs include abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction. They can have a cumulative effect on a person’s mental health and well-being. Research has shown that people with a history of ACEs are more likely to experience mental health concerns, including depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.5
For military personnel, the combination of ACEs and military-related trauma can create a complex web of challenges that require a comprehensive, trauma-informed approach to treatment.

Trauma-Informed Care for Military Personnel: Core Principles

Trauma-informed care is a framework that recognizes the pervasive impact of trauma and seeks to create a safe, supportive environment that promotes healing and recovery.
The core principles of trauma-informed care include:

Safety: Creating a Safe, Supportive Environment

At New Choices Treatment Center, we understand that creating a safe, supportive environment is essential for trauma-informed care for military personnel. We prioritize the physical, emotional, and psychological safety of our clients in every aspect of our program.

Ensuring a Physically Secure and Welcoming Space

Our facilities are designed with client safety and comfort in mind. We maintain a secure, monitored environment while also offering welcoming, home-like accommodations. Clients can feel at ease knowing they are protected from outside threats and triggers.

Establishing Clear Boundaries and Expectations

We believe that clear boundaries and expectations are crucial for creating a sense of safety and stability.
Upon admission, each client is provided with a comprehensive orientation that outlines our:
  • Program rules
  • Schedules
  • Therapeutic guidelines
This predictability helps reduce anxiety and allows clients to focus on their recovery.

Promoting a Culture of Respect and Non-Violence

Respect is a core value at NCTC. We foster a culture of mutual respect among clients and staff, emphasizing the importance of non-violent communication and conflict resolution.
Our team is trained in de-escalation techniques and works proactively to maintain a peaceful, supportive environment.

Offering a Predictable and Consistent Treatment Experience

Consistency is key in trauma-informed care for military personnel. We provide a structured daily schedule that includes a balance of:
  • Individual and group therapies
  • Recreational activities
  • Personal time
This predictability helps clients feel more grounded and allows them to develop a sense of routine and stability.

Importance of Prioritizing Safety

By prioritizing safety in all its forms, we aim to create an environment where military personnel feel secure, supported, and empowered to engage fully in the treatment process.
Our compassionate team is dedicated to walking alongside each client, providing the guidance and encouragement they need to navigate the challenges of trauma recovery.

Trustworthiness and Transparency in Trauma-Informed Care for Military Personnel

Trust is a fundamental component of trauma-informed care. For combat veterans who have experienced trauma, building trust can be particularly challenging.
Trauma-informed care for military personnel emphasizes the importance of:
  • Establishing clear communication
  • Being transparent about treatment processes
  • Involving clients in decision-making

How We Do It

Some ways to build trust and enhance collaboration include:
  1. Providing clear explanations of treatment options and expectations
  2. Involving clients in the development of their treatment plans
  3. Regularly seeking feedback and input from clients
  4. Maintaining open and honest communication throughout the treatment process
By fostering a sense of trust and collaboration, we can empower military personnel to take an active role in their recovery and healing.

Promoting Autonomy and Self-Efficacy in Trauma-Informed Care for Military Personnel

Trauma can often leave people feeling powerless and disconnected from their sense of agency. Trauma-informed care seeks to promote empowerment and choice by supporting clients in making informed decisions about their treatment and actively taking part in their recovery.
Some ways to promote empowerment and choice include:
  • Offering a range of treatment options and modalities
  • Encouraging clients to set their own goals and priorities
  • Providing opportunities for skill-building and self-efficacy
  • Respecting clients’ right to make decisions about their care
By promoting autonomy and self-efficacy, we can help military personnel regain a sense of control over their lives and build the resilience needed for long-term recovery.

Implementing Trauma-Informed Care for Military Personnel in Recovery

At New Choices Treatment Center, we recognize that effective trauma-informed care for military personnel must be grounded in a deep understanding of each person’s unique trauma history.
By taking a comprehensive, trauma-informed approach to assessment and treatment planning, we can provide the personalized care and support that our clients need to heal and thrive.

Screening and Assessment in Trauma-Informed Care for Military Personnel

Conducting comprehensive trauma assessments and utilizing screening tools is essential for identifying trauma histories and tailoring treatment plans accordingly.
Some commonly used assessment tools include:
  • The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Questionnaire
  • The Life Events Checklist for DSM-5 (LEC-5)
  • The PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5)
  • The Trauma Symptom Inventory-2 (TSI-2)
By gathering information about a person’s trauma history, we can develop a more comprehensive understanding of their unique needs and challenges. This allows us to provide more targeted and effective interventions.

Evidence-Based Therapies for Trauma-Informed-Care for Military Personnel

There are several evidence-based therapies that have been shown to be effective in treating trauma and its associated symptoms.
These include:

Active in Recovery (AIR)

AIR is a strengths-based addiction recovery program that combines intense physical exercise with evidence-based therapies to promote neuroregeneration and reduce substance dependence.
The program aims to:
  • Improve stress management skills
  • Reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Enhance cognition, social engagement, and self-esteem
By blending proven mental health therapies with physical movement in a supportive community setting, AIR empowers clients to build resilience and harness their inherent capacity for recovery from addiction and other mental health challenges.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to distress.
CBT can help individuals:
  • Develop coping skills
  • Challenge distorted beliefs
  • Process traumatic experiences in a safe and structured environment

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

DBT is a skills-based approach that emphasizes:
  1. Mindfulness
  2. Emotion regulation
  3. Distress tolerance
  4. Interpersonal effectiveness
DBT can be particularly helpful for people with complex trauma histories who struggle with intense emotions and impulsive behaviors.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

EMDR is a psychotherapy approach that uses bilateral stimulation (such as eye movements or tapping) to help people process traumatic memories and reduce the distress associated with them. EMDR has been shown to be effective in treating PTSD and other trauma-related conditions.
By utilizing these evidence-based therapies, we can help military personnel address the root causes of their trauma and develop the skills needed for long-term recovery and well-being.

Sensory and Grounding Techniques: Managing Distress and Regulating Emotions

In addition to evidence-based therapies, sensory and grounding techniques can be valuable tools for helping military personnel manage distress and regulate their emotions.
These techniques can include:
  • Mindfulness practices, such as deep breathing, body scans, and meditation
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Sensory grounding exercises, such as identifying objects in the environment using the five senses
  • Engaging in physical activities, such as walking, stretching, or yoga
By incorporating these techniques into trauma-informed care for military personnel, we can help veterans develop a greater sense of self-awareness, emotional regulation, and distress tolerance.

Our Approach to Trauma-Informed Care for Military Personnel

At New Choices Treatment Center, we are committed to providing comprehensive, trauma-informed care for military personnel struggling with addiction and co-occurring mental health concerns.
Our specialists, many of us veterans ourselves, can relate to your concerns and are dedicated to supporting you on your journey to recovery.

Comprehensive Assessment: Understanding Unique Trauma Histories

We begin by conducting thorough, trauma-informed assessments to understand the unique trauma histories and treatment needs of each person.
By gathering information about past experiences, current challenges, and personal goals, we can develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses the full spectrum of a person’s needs.

Veteran-Specific Programming in Trauma-Informed Care for Military Personnel

At New Choices Treatment Center, we recognize that military personnel face unique challenges when it comes to trauma recovery and reintegration into civilian life. That’s why we offer a range of specialized groups, workshops, and activities designed specifically to address these needs.

Combat Stress and PTSD Groups

Our combat stress and PTSD groups provide a safe, supportive space for veterans to process their experiences and develop coping strategies.
Led by experienced clinicians who understand the complexities of military trauma, these groups focus on topics such as:
  • Managing triggers
  • Dealing with nightmares and flashbacks
  • Building resilience
Through shared storytelling and evidence-based techniques like cognitive processing therapy (CPT), participants can work through their trauma and find a path to healing.

Military Sexual Trauma Support Groups

MST is a devastating reality for far too many service members. Our MST support groups offer a confidential, validating environment where survivors can connect with others who understand their experiences.
Facilitated by trained therapists, these groups:
  • Provide psychoeducation on the impact of sexual trauma
  • Teach grounding and self-care techniques
  • Help participants develop a sense of safety and empowerment
Through this supportive community, survivors can begin to reclaim their lives and move forward in their recovery.

Workshops on Transitioning Back to Civilian Life

Adjusting to civilian life after military service can be a daunting challenge. Our workshops on transitioning back to civilian life provide practical guidance and emotional support for this critical period.
Topics may include:
  • Navigating the VA system
  • Finding employment
  • Managing relationships
  • Creating a new sense of purpose and identity
By equipping veterans with the tools and knowledge they need to succeed, we aim to smooth the transition process and promote long-term wellness.

Recreational Activities in Trauma-Informed Care for Military Personnel

We believe that healing happens not just in therapy sessions, but also through the power of connection and shared experience. That’s why we offer a variety of recreational activities designed to promote camaraderie and peer support among our veteran clients.
From group fitness classes and team sports to outdoor adventures and creative arts projects, these activities provide opportunities for veterans to:
  • Bond
  • Have fun
  • Rediscover a sense of joy and purpose

Our Commitment to Tailored Programming in Trauma-Informed Care for Military Personnel

At New Choices Treatment Center, we are committed to providing programming that honors the unique experiences and needs of military personnel.
By combining clinical expertise with a deep understanding of military culture, we aim to create a truly veteran-centric approach to trauma recovery and reintegration.
Our goal is to help each veteran who comes through our doors find the strength, resilience, and sense of belonging they need to thrive in this next chapter of their lives.

Accessible Resources: Connecting with Community Support

In addition to our on-site programming, we are committed to connecting military personnel with community resources, support groups, and services that can enhance their recovery and reintegration efforts.
This may include:
  • Referrals to veteran-specific support groups and organizations
  • Assistance with accessing VA benefits and services
  • Connections to housing, employment, and educational resources
  • Ongoing case management and aftercare planning
By providing a comprehensive network of support, we can help military personnel build the foundation for long-term recovery and success.
Trauma-Informed Care for Military Personnel

Honoring Resilience and Courage Through Trauma-Informed Care for Military Personnel

At New Choices Treatment Center, we recognize the incredible strength and resilience of military personnel who have faced the challenges of trauma and addiction. We are honored to walk alongside you on your journey to healing and recovery.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction and trauma-related concerns, we invite you to reach out to us for support. Our compassionate and experienced team is here to provide trauma-informed care for military personnel that allows you to reclaim your life and build a brighter future.

Take the First Step: Contact New Choices Treatment Center Today

Don’t let trauma and addiction control your life any longer. Take the first step toward healing and recovery by contacting New Choices Treatment Center today. Our admissions team is available 24/7 to answer your questions, provide support, and help you get started on your journey to wellness.
Phone: (726) 888-7003
Remember, you are not alone. With the right support and resources, recovery is possible. Let us help you build the foundation for a healthier, more fulfilling life.